Lebanon Cancer Center seeks $14m to fill funding gap

The Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL), has seen the number of children with cancer coming to the center rise between 10 and 15 per cent in five years

The Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL), a nonprofit facility that offers free treatment to children, is seeking $14m in donations for 2015 to meet rising costs of medication and to help a growing number of patients suffering from the disease.

According to Paul Edde, chair of CCCL’s outreach committee and the centre’s secretary, the facility treats 125 new cases every year and has up to 275 patients receiving treatment at any given time.

“This requires a budget of $14m to $16m a year and we do not take a penny, regardless of the parents ability to pay or not. If they have insurance we rely on that, if not, we pay everything,” said Edde.

The center, which claims an average cure rate of 80 per cent, accepts patients from all over the Arab world, including children from hydrocarbon-rich Gulf states such as Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE. It also receives refugees from Iraq and Syria.

“Our major challenges today are spreading awareness of the responsibility we have to assume and making sure we have sufficient sources of finance to take care of the increasing cost of treatment for those who come to our center. We cannot turn them away,” said Edde.

During the past five years, the number of children with cancer coming to the center has risen between 10-15 per cent, while the cost of treating the disease has also increased significantly, said Edde.

However, funding hasn’t kept pace with these developments, forcing CCCL to establish a fundraising center in London in November to tap into the Lebanese and Arab diaspora there. Donations from Gulf states have also been declining, he said.

“We have witnessed a reduction in donations coming from Gulf states and in the number of donors. We are trying to have new sources of supply and knock on the doors of more Lebanese living in the diaspora anywhere in the world, to make them aware of what we’re doing and how they can support us,” said Edde.

In order to overcome its funding challenges, CCCL will be seeking more donations from the GCC region during an upcoming event in Dubai in October this year.

On average, each patient requires three years of treatment, at a cost of $50,000 per year. However, this could reach as much as $200,000 in some cases.

CCCL is highly dependent on volunteers, sponsors and partners. “Fundraising is a new culture in this part of the world. With so much money in the region, the question is how fully are we aware that we are human beings who should support one another?” said Edde. “We have to do more and will have to accept more children coming in.”

By 2020, CCCL’s budgetary requirements are expected to spike to $24m, as the costs of operating the center and cancer cases increase, according to Edde.

“Treating this disease is part of the community. We are trying to make a comprehensive approach in the region and spread the word that this is everyone’s responsibility and children should not die at the dawn of their lives,” said Edde.

CCCL was established as a nonprofit in 2002 with 50 children and a cure rate of 52 per cent, and is affiliated to the US-based St Jude's Children's Research Hospital. It works in close collaboration with the American University of Beirut Medical Center, accepts children regardless of nationality or race, and offers surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation and supportive care.

To date, it has treated more than 1,000 children with cancer and provided some 3,000 consultations to patients in Lebanon and the Middle East.

Photo credit: CCCL